To commemorate one of the greatest speeches in American sports history, the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center on the campus of Montclair State University is featuring a new exhibit, “The Luckiest Man,” a tribute to baseball legend Lou Gehrig’s iconic farewell 75 years ago.
Gehrig famously declared himself “the luckiest man on the face of the earth” during his final speech at Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939, before 61,808 fans. On that day, the 36-year-old Yankee captain spoke of his battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, now commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease in North America. Nicknamed the “Iron Horse” in recognition of his remarkable athletic abilities, Gehrig insisted that his disease would not rob him of all the good fortune, good friends and great love he had enjoyed throughout his short life.
The exhibit, which runs through December 1, contains artifacts and rare photos of Gehrig’s life and career in which he played a record 2,130 consecutive games and belted 493 home runs while compiling a batting average of .340.
The exhibit also honors Pete Frates, a former Boston College baseball star, who is the inspiration for the social media viral phenomenon, “Ice Bucket Challenge,” which has raised public awareness and more than $100 million for ALS research. Frates, now 29, considers himself blessed to have played the game he loved and to have the support of family and friends – like Lou Gehrig.
For more information about “The Luckiest Man” exhibit, visit yogiberramuseum.org.